Is your busy mind keeping you awake at night? By shifting your attention to what you’re experiencing with your senses, you can begin to loosen the grip of cycling thoughts.
What you see
Color: Consider decorating your bedroom with water colors and soft pastels. Select paint colors, bedding colors, and pillow colors that will help make your room an oasis of tranquility. Unlike vibrant primary colors which can be energizing, these soft colors can be soothing and calming—and help prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
Screen time: In addition to what you see, it’s also important to consider what you don’t see. Try to get in the habit of refraining from screen time for at least an hour prior to bedtime. When you’re in front of a screen your body may think it’s daytime and this can interfere with the release of hormones that help you sleep.
What you hear
Sound machine: Nature sounds or continual sound like white noise can offer you a resting place for your attention. Any time you’re distracted by cycling thoughts, simply shift your attention to what you hear—even if you have to make this attention shift every second or two.
What you smell
Aromatherapy: Scents can help you relax, and lavender is known for its soothing aroma. When you have trouble falling asleep, adding lavender essential oil to an aromatherapy diffuser can send you off to dreamland, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz as she entered the poppy fields.
What you feel
Weighted blanket: Sleeping with a weighted blanket on top of you can help relax your muscles. If you tend to get warm when you sleep, consider using a “cooling” style of weighted blanket. It’s typically recommended to use a blanket that’s no heavier than 10% of your body weight.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise: Practicing a progressive muscle relaxation helps to release physical tension. This exercise consists of a gentle tightening and releasing of each muscle group to help you differentiate between what a muscle feels like when it’s tensed versus what it feels like when it’s relaxed. Any time your mind wanders, gently shift your attention back to how your body feels. You can listen to a guided progressive muscle relaxation meditation on the Mindful 180 podcast, episode 51 (on most popular apps) or listen on: https://joyrains.com/episode-51/.
On January 1, 2021, I threw out my page-a-day calendar, with the last page, December 31, 2020, still clinging to the adhesive. Unlike years past, this year I felt a sense of relief—a sense of “good riddance 2020!”—as I tossed out the old. A sense of anticipation arose as I cut the plastic wrap from the new calendar.
Viktor Frankl talks about this sense of anticipation in his book,“Man’s Search For Meaning,” one of my pandemic reads. Frankl emphasizes the importance of living by looking to the future in the most difficult moments of existence. He writes about gaining inner strength by focusing on future outcomes, no matter how hard it is to shift your focus from the present.
I’m a mindfulness trainer, teaching present moment awareness. This awareness doesn’t mean you have to continually focus on the difficulties of the present situation. Certainly, it means to acknowledge the challenges. Pushing them away would create resistance. But looking at challenges as part of a whole—rather than seeing them as if they’re all that exists—can help give you perspective. Part of that whole is looking to the future. As Frankl would say, this looking forward can help fortify you.
Remember, you are at choice about where you focus your attention. Consider focusing on what you want to create in the new year. What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I’m now offering Mindful Stress Management programs for organizations and one-on-one sales training for entrepreneurs and small business owners. For more information please reach out! Wishing you a happy, healthy, and mindful new year.
Like millions of people throughout the world, I woke up this morning to an unknown election result. Darn! I wanted to know what was in store for the next four years and I wanted to know NOW!
People like predictability. People like to know what’s next. Living in the unknown can be uncomfortable, yet that’s where we are at this moment in time.
So, if you want to get more comfortable with the unknown—whether it’s the unknown of an election result or the unknown of everyday life—here are some tips:
Stay present in your body. When your mind starts to spin, shift your attention to your body and breath. Notice the coolness of the air when you breathe in and its warmth when you breathe out. Notice the connection of your feet with the ground beneath you. Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath or your feet.
Realize that this, too, shall pass. Everything changes. At some point we’ll all know the outcome of the election. And then in four years another election will take place and we’ll go through uncertainty once again. We’re in the midst of an event in the timeline of history.
See if you can let go of the need for a predictable result, realizing that “knowing” can be an illusion, anyway. Consider the times when you thought you know how everything was going to go, then something came out of left field and completely surprised you. Even when you think you know, life is full of unpredictable twists and turns.
Which leads me to the last point. It’s okay not to know. Can you let go of the need for a predictable result and instead, bring your awareness to the present moment? Remember, you can bring your attention to your feet connected to the ground anytime. Because one thing you do know is that as long as you’re on this earth, gravity will hold you close.
Here’s a link to my latest Mindful 180 podcast episode where I discuss this topic. Listen here or on your favorite app. I hope it serves you today and in the weeks to come.
For added support, I’m offering Mindful Stress Management Workshops for workplace teams over Zoom. I have limited availability, so please send me a direct message on LinkedIn or email me at for booking inquiries.